June 14, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 11 to 17 are provided by Pastor Yohan Lee of Remnant Church, New York City. Yohan graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Cairn University, where he studied theology.  He is married to Mandie, and they have four adorable children

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Jeremiah 12:2b (NIV)

“You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.”

I think I count as a relatively big sports fan.  Unfortunately, my favorite team (da Bears) have been an absolute dumpster fire for the past five seasons.  Since the 2012 season, we’re now on our fourth head coach (meaning, we’ve fired three in six years!).  Now, while I generally hate seeing people lose their jobs, I knew it was time for the last two to go.  In sports, you realize a coach has “lost the team” when the players stop playing hard or give effort:  In football, players will miss tackles or won’t get up quickly after getting blocked; in basketball, defenders will get beat off the dribble or give up uncontested layups and jumpers; in baseball, base runners won’t run out ground balls, etc.  In other words, the players just go through the motions of competing without actually putting their hearts into it.

If you have been seeking after the Lord for any significant amount of time, I would venture to say that there have been times or even extended seasons where you were guilty of going through the motions of Christian life (or worship or serving) without putting your heart into it.  Sure, you go to Sunday worship, small groups, perhaps retreats and other major church events, but you’re not particularly excited or come with anticipation, do you?  Even in serving, you can go through the motions; perhaps you were a small group leader so you hosted and led the Bible study, but you didn’t really prepare or pray for your members.  Pastors aren’t immune to gutless service either—if we aren’t careful, we can treat church work like a job, as opposed to a calling.

Now, I’m taking today’s passage a little out of context, as Jeremiah was complaining about genuinely wicked people who professed God on Sundays but did whatever evil their hearts wanted the rest of the days.  But still, even as people who genuinely want to follow and serve the Lord, don’t you find that there are times when Jesus is more on your lips (and actions) than in your heart?  Even if that kind of feels like you this morning, please regroup: remember who and why you do what you do, and get your heart right with the Lord.  Remember the words of the Apostle Paul, who said that it was Christ’s love that compelled him to preach the gospel (2 Cor. 5:14).  May Christ’s love be the reason you do everything you do, and may He always be near to your heart.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart (Ps 139:23); please restore my love for You.  If I am in danger of going through the motions of Christian life, forgive me and give me a right spirit.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Ezekiel 20


Lunch Break Study

Read Revelation 2:1-7: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:  These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans,which I also hate.  7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some things that the church of Ephesus did right?
  2. What did they get wrong and how did the Lord view this?  (v. 7)
  3. What was the Lord’s remedy for the Ephesian church?

Notes

  1. In vv. 2-3 we see that the Ephesian church worked hard and persevered through trials, and there was both a lifestyle and doctrinal purity to them.
  2. They had forsaken their first love (Christ)—this was such a serious matter that the Lord threatened to remove their lampstand.  In the previous chapter, the lampstand is what makes a church a church, so I think the most likely interpretation is that the Holy Spirit would leave this church.
  3. To fix their church, Jesus commands the Ephesians to consider or remember where they are now (and where they were), repent, and do those things they used to do (v. 5).  Perhaps that would be good for us as well.

Evening Reflection 

Today we talked extensively about the heart.  If you haven’t already taken some time to reflect, and ask yourself, Why do I do what I do?  Can you say that your life reflects a person who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength?  Or are you going through the motions?  Has life (family, career, money, good times, etc.) clouded your heart?  Ask the Lord to reveal the condition of your heart today.

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